The Ultimate Gatlinburg Elopement Planning Guide

Are you thinking about planning an elopement near Gatlinburg? This guide has everything you need to know, including amazing elopement locations and lots more!

Bride and groom kissing in the Smoky Mountains during their Gatlinburg elopement

How to Plan Your Gatlinburg Elopement

  1. Start daydreaming about what you want your Gatlinburg elopement to look like! Check out sites like Pinterest for inspiration.
  2. Get in touch and book your Gatlinburg elopement photographer.
  3. Work with your photographer to help you find the perfect Gatlinburg elopement location. Or check out some of the more popular spots below!
  4. Once you determine your location, choose your elopement date.
  5. Book lodging and any travel needed.
  6. Hire any other elopement vendors you want, such as a florist, hair and makeup artist, officiant, or videographer.
  7. Obtain your marriage license.
  8. Enjoy your epic elopement day!

Getting your marriage license for your elopement

If you are planning to elope in Gatlinburg, you should obtain your marriage license in Tennessee, regardless of where you live. This is because very few states allow you to apply for a marriage license, have your ceremony in another state, and return home to file the marriage license. You can find all of the details here.

County Clerk Locations near Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is located in Sevier County and so you can visit one of Sevier County’s three County Clerk offices to obtain the marriage license. One of the offices is located in Gatlinburg, and the other two offices are located in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. You can also start filling out the marriage license application online if that is easier for you.

Time Period for Marriage License

There is no waiting period in Tennessee, so you can use the marriage license on the same day if you’d like. However, the marriage license must be used within 30 days of issuance.

Marriage License Cost

The cost for a marriage license in Tennessee is $41.00 for in state residents and $101.00 for out of state residents. The County Clerk offices can accept cash for payment, or they can accept Visa/Mastercard with a small processing fee.

What to bring with you

Here’s a list of what to bring with you when you go to the County Clerk’s office and other requirements:

  • Both parties must be age 18 or older.
  • Present one of the following: Valid driver’s license, a state-issued photo ID, state ID card, military ID passport, and social security number.
  • If either of you have been divorced or widowed, you will need to know the exact date that the divorce was final, or date of death. If one of the parties has had a name change in the divorce and has not had the name changed on the driver’s license, he or she will need to provide a certified copy of her divorce decree.
  • There is no blood test.
  • There is no waiting period. The license can be used the same day.
  • The license must be used within 30 days of issuance.

Best places to elope in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

But first, a word on permits…

When couples start planning their elopements, sometimes they are surprised to find out that you might need a permit to get married in certain locations. Many public lands have rules requiring a special use permit to hold your ceremony at that location (including Great Smoky Mountains National Park!). Always make sure to check on this wherever you decide to elope. Your elopement photographer is often a good resource to help with understanding these requirements as well!

Cades Cove Elopement

Cades Cove is a popular elopement location in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove is a scenic drive that travels 11 miles going one way and has mountain views in all directions. For an additional permit fee, you can get married in the small Cades Cove church.

Cataract Falls Elopement

Cataract Falls is a very short hike with a beautiful view! Located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the visitor center, this location is accessed quickly from Gatlinburg. This location sees a lot of traffic though, so those seeking privacy for their elopement may not want to choose this spot.

The Foothills Parkway Elopement

The Foothills Parkway is a scenic drive that runs through the foothills in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This spot makes for a great elopement location since there is really no hiking required at all! You can stop at one spot for your ceremony and drive to several other spots for additional photos.

Greenbrier Elopement

The Greenbrier area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers several different types of scenery like riverside, forest, or mountain views. It tends to be less crowded than some other areas of the park, so it can be a great spot if you’re looking for a little more seclusion. There are also some great picnic areas here for a small celebration after your vows.

Airbnb/VRBO for Gatlinburg Cabin Weddings

Another fun idea to consider for your elopement would be to rent an Airbnb or VRBO with epic views for a Gatlinburg cabin wedding. There are some properties with great views throughout the Gatlinburg area. If both privacy and accessibility are important to you, renting a private property is a great choice! Of course, always make sure to check with the owners about your plans before booking your property.

Bride with a smoky eye makeup look and curled hair with floral crown for her elopement

Choosing when to elope in Gatlinburg


Gatlinburg is beautiful at any time of year, but here are some considerations that you might think about in choosing when to elope in Gatlinburg.

Summer is definitely the peak season for tourism. It can get warm, with average highs in the 80s, but it is not as humid as nearby areas due to the higher elevation. There are lots of summer activities going on during this time of year as well if you are looking for ways to stay entertained.

Fall is also a popular time to visit, specifically October when fall foliage is at its peak. September tends to be a quieter month which can make it a nice time to visit as well. 

If you’re hoping for a snowy elopement, you can try setting your date during the winter months as Gatlinburg does have a ski resort. Overall it does not stay too cold though, with average highs between 48 and 53 degrees from December through February. 

Finally, Spring is definitely the off season for Gatlinburg, but you may be able to catch some beautiful wildflower sightings during this time of year.


Because of the popularity of many Gatlinburg locations, I always recommend a weekday elopement if at all possible. It will offer you significantly less crowds and more privacy than a weekend elopement.

Time of day

Equally as important as choosing a weekday elopement over a weekend elopement, is choosing a time of day that will offer you the best chance of privacy. 

Early mornings are by far the best time to elope if seclusion is important to you. If you can’t make a morning elopement work for you two, evenings are generally the next best time. 

Bouquet of flowers on a rock next to wedding rings for Gatlinburg elopement

Where to have your Gatlinburg elopement reception

Here are a few different options you have for celebrating your Gatlinburg elopement, whether that be just the two of you or with others.


A picnic at a local pavilion is always a great option for celebrating your elopement, especially if you’re planning to celebrate your elopement with friends and family.

Some of the most visited picnic areas near Gatlinburg include Mynatt Park, Patriot Park, Cades Cove Picnic Area, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, and Greenbrier Picnic Area.


Another option would be to make a reservation at a nearby restaurant for your reception. Many restaurants have a private event space option. You could also consider having your reception at a nearby distillery or craft brewery!

Private Chef/Catering

Finally, if you love good food but want more privacy to celebrate your marriage, consider hiring a local private chef or ordering catering. This is a great option if you’re renting an Airbnb or VRBO in the area.

Gatlinburg elopement FAQ

How do you elope in Gatlinburg TN?

Eloping in Gatlinburg is as simple as going to the County Clerk’s office in Gatlinburg and completing your marriage license. However, many couples choose to celebrate by saying their vows at a beautiful location, going on an adventure together, or planning a small celebration afterwards.

How much is it to get married in Gatlinburg?

The cost for a marriage license in Tennessee is $41.00 for in state residents and $101.00 for out of state residents. The County Clerk offices can accept cash for payment, or they can accept Visa/Mastercard with a small processing fee.

How do you get married in Cades Cove?

Cades Cove is located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park so a special use permit is required to get married at this spot. You must apply no sooner than 14 days prior to your planned event, and there is a $50 non-refundable application fee.

What can couples do in Gatlinburg?

There are lots of fun activities for couples in Gatlinburg, including visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park or other scenic areas. There are lots of museums to visit, or couples might enjoy going to a distillery or winery. The observation deck at the Gatlinburg Space Needle is also a popular spot to visit. 

Check out more elopement planning resources!

Elopement Photographer Kim from Wild and Found Photography

Hi I’m Kim, a Denver, Colorado based photographer specializing in Adventure Elopements in Colorado and worldwide! Photographing couples on the most special day of their lives is a true honor for me. But I’ve made it my mission to take it one step further than that. When you work with me, you’re getting more than just a photographer. I’m here to help you with all of the planning resources you need to have the most amazing elopement day ever! That includes everything from assistance with location ideas, timeline planning, and lots more free resources. So you can forget the work, and focus on having fun!


    1. Hi there! I definitely recommend checking out the locations mentioned in this post! Cades Cove, Greenbrier, Cataract Falls, and the Foothills Parkway are my favorites! You could also check out one of the Airbnbs listed above as the views are so beautiful and if you have no guests or just a few guests, they could work great! Just make sure to always get approval for your plans from the owner before you book! Hope that helps!

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